Speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 2 of 3

Customer Acquisition
Part 2 of 3

Four Colours of Buyers

The first studies of personality types were done around 400BC in Ancient Greece, by Hippocrates. Hundreds of years ago, astrologers began using the four elements of nature – earth, air, fire and water to describe common traits. In modern times, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung refined the study of personality types. He identified patterns of behaviour and suggested that environment and upbringing played only a small role. Jung believed that we are all born with our natural personality types which he identified as Sensing, Thinking, Feeling and Intuition.

Katherine Briggs broadened Jung’s research and and with her daughter, used it as the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, first published in 1956 and still in wide use today. In 1978, their work was refined by David Keirsey, and from his work came the development of True Colours, an adaptation of complex psychological material into everyday language.

Today, designers use the symbolism of colour in everything from clothing and home furnishings to product packaging and children’s toys. Blue is the colour of the sea and the sky. It’s the colour of warmth, calm and harmony. Orange is bright and vibrant, exuding energy and action, and shouts “look at me.” Gold is the colour of a precious metal, leading to expressions like “the gold standard.” It implies stability, tradition and dependability. Green is the colour of nature and connected with thoughts of growth, abundance and creativity.

For simplicity and ease of identification, each the four buyer personality types is described in these colours – Gold, Green, Blue and Orange.

Gold Personality Type – The Commander

Commander types are efficient, task-oriented and highly organised. They like facts, details, and proven examples. Traditional by nature, they are responsible, excellent with money and don’t like making mistakes of any kind. Buying decisions follow specific procedures and they are constantly juggling the task of finding the best value along with a good quality service. This scale applies to their personal lives as well as their purchases for the company. Even when buying on behalf of the business, their mindset considers it their money and won’t be wasted.

The Commander type is highly sensitive to time-wasting or others not keeping their promises and will quickly show impatience. Frustration is often a good reason for them to abandon their current supplier, if it helps get the job done properly.

Keys to effective communication:
Golds are generally methodical, careful and conservative. They prefer to take their time. They are unlikely to make snap decisions and will need to be fully convinced of your credentials before they will buy. They will start with whatever is tried, tested and proved, or a company that provides a stable track record and excellent service. They will be very loyal and reluctant to change to another supplier unless there are clear savings or a better product. For that, they need evidence. Use wording that talks about “superior” or “improved,” instead of change. Golds like to be complimented on their good judgement. Ask them to post their comments and advice on your blog.

Be patient. Golds can take a long time to buy. They will often delay the sale because it’s natural for them to want all the facts and to go over every last small detail. Once they’ve made the decision to buy however, they will want it immediately. Your patience will have been rewarded, because they will often want the extended warranty and all the extras, just to be on the safe side.

What to avoid:
Avoid a high-energy, pushy approach. A hard-sell approach is likely to irritate them or make them uncomfortable with you. Do not gloss over any aspect of your service. Of all the personality types, this one genuinely wants a high level of detail. Once they’re interested, do not fall down on follow up. Nothing turns The Commander type off more than bad service, delays of information or late quotes.

Green Personality Type – The Analyst 

Analyst types are characterised by a thoughtful, logical approach to business. They will not waste words, and may often sound blunt and direct. They tend to be fast-paced, results-oriented and will get straight to the point. You only got the appointment with an Analyst because there was a specific need or a way to improve something within their organisation. It was not your charm or sales ability, so allow them to take control of the meeting and the agenda.

Be prepared for lots of questions. Typically, they will often ask questions to which they already know the answers, just to test you. If you don’t know, say so. Don’t try to cover lack of knowledge with personal banter. They are more interested in seeing proof of your competence than in how sociable and friendly you are. Don’t plan to make a new best friend.

Keys to effective communication:
Green is interested in business first, so get to the point quickly. Include the key points in an executive summary when presenting. They view their time as valuable and will be put off by a long, albeit well-meaning presentation. Encourage them to make a decision and let them know you won’t waste their time. Give clearly-defined, specific options and solutions that can help solve their problems. Stay factual and logical without emotional appeals or strong sales tactics.

Greens are interested in the bottom line, so match value to performance and make your pricing realistic. They fear being taken advantage of and will distrust extravagant claims, seeing them as signs of weakness. Because this personality type is quick to form an opinion about your competence it is imperative that you make a good first impression and that your follow-up communication is well organised, confident and contains no errors. Greens always have an opinion, so encourage them to post on your blog. If the sale is not immediate, don’t give up – stay in touch and supply information they can learn from – especially if it is written or available on the web.

What to avoid:
Steer away from intricate detail. When The Analyst type wants more information, they will ask for it. Just be sure you know your stuff. Do not bluff. Don’t ever get bogged down in small talk because you will lose them very quickly. Do not push for a close. The more pressure, the less likely you are to make the sale. You will need to very carefully probe until you find the objection.

Orange Personality Type – The Enthusiast 

The Enthusiast type is characterised by an expressive, aggressive approach to business, and aspires to great heights because “everything is possible.” They are emotive and easy-going in their personal dealings. They are energetic, impulsive and live “for the moment.” In a perfect world, The Enthusiast wants it quick and convenient, fun and cool. Few things are measured by their cost, but rather whether something is worth having.

Enthusiast types will often be quick to buy because they are driven naturally by sensation. They don’t want to miss out on an opportunity that may be thrilling, pleasing or otherwise valuable.

Keys to effective communication:
Orange is fast-paced and excitable. They are more likely to relate to someone who is obviously emotionally involved and who, like themselves, can become excited and animated. They are the exact opposite of the conservative Gold. Motivate, praise and inspire them. You can win them over with your strong presence, stimulating and entertaining conversation, humour and liveliness. They also like professional incentives, particularly for themselves. Putting a good deal on the table enables them to make quicker decisions.

Orange thrives on recognition. One or two compliments will go a long way towards making this personality type more comfortable and receptive. Use anecdotes and personal stories. Because Oranges can become bored, maintain their interest by explaining how your offer affects them directly and personally.

What to avoid:
Avoid too much focus on detail. A careful, step-by-step analysis of each product or service is likely to bore them. Stick to topics that apply directly to their needs. Don’t tell them – ask and involve them. Avoid excessive paperwork, it’s a big turn-off and a quick way to lose them. Be prepared to throw your formal presentation approach away and be ready to start again as they may well assign this project to someone else.

Avoid low pressure communications. The Enthusiast type craves excitement and energy and is unlikely to be convinced by soft sell. Be expressive; they love it. Ask for the business and make it painless, quick and fun. If they start to tune out, make sure you have a fast forward method of getting to the close.

Blue Personality Type – The Ambassador   

Ambassador types are friendly, compassionate, “feeling” people who want to contribute goodness to the lives of others. They are effective at doing this through their nurturing, insightful and encouraging nature. Blues are imaginative and passionate about their causes. These are the “people people.” They can appear to have a more casual approach to business.

Ambassador types may sometimes suffer from buyer’s remorse – feelings of regret or of not having done the right thing – so a powerful retention program is useful when selling them a product or service.

Keys to effective communication: 
Blues are receptive as long as they perceive you as sympathetic, friendly, helpful and open. Because their decisions are subjective and personal your role is to give direction, show support and gently guide them. Show empathy and give them rock solid guarantees. They are counting on you. Blues are people-oriented, so it is helpful to speak in terms of “feelings” and to make your sales presentation personal and specific. Send them social proof in small bites so they can easily read what your happy customers have to say. Be prepared to sell to the whole team if others get pulled in to help make the decision.

Unlike Greens, who prefer to be left alone to consider a decision, Blues need continual guidance and follow up in order to be comfortable with making a decision to buy. Follow up consistently without being pushy. They despise conflict. Blues will do everything they can to make sure everyone is happy and getting along.

What to avoid:
Avoid an aggressive approach. A hard sell can make them feel uncomfortable. If they feel threatened, they are unlikely to buy from you. Never, ever back them into a corner. Instead, take things slowly, earn their trust and support their feelings. Be mindful that Ambassador types can never come out and just say ‘no’. This means you are not likely to get a direct answer if they’ve tuned out. 

Go to Part 3  

Steve Osborne

director at

Marketing, advertising and design consultant with many years experience in small business marketing strategy; brand advertising; packaging and identity design. Expert in developing creative campaigns to attract new prospects for professional and service-based businesses. Deep and broad experience with digital and traditional media channels; sales and general business acumen